There’s an old adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but reports are that GM is working on a “fix” for the perceived issues that could lead to a Volt battery fire.

These repairs are being researched even as a U.S. House subcommittee intends to launch a probe into why it took several months for the first fire during the summer to be reported.

In other news, the car keeps garnering awards, and most recently, the 2011 Volt was named “Collectible Car of the Future.” On top of this, CNET is running a contest in which Volt enthusiasts will want to vote – we will have more on this below.

Possibly good news

First though, Reuters broke a speculative story this week that GM engineers are working on a procedure that could be a solution for the possibility that a crashed Volt’s battery, if not discharged, could catch fire.

On a phone interview yesterday, GM spokesman Randy Fox said the time frame for more info could indeed be a matter of weeks, but he could not confirm what the fix is because GM does not fully know yet.

The Reuters article said someone at GM said a relatively expedient repair could be done at a Chevy dealership short of a major safety recall and could cost GM about $1,000 per vehicle. This would be less than $9 million to repair all Volts according to the anonymous source.



 

Reuters said the procedure would involve 1) laminating circuitry internal to the 400-pound lithium-ion battery pack to reduce the likelihood of shorts, and 2) reinforcing the case to make it more impact resistant, thus preventing possible coolant spillage.

Sources also said crystallized coolant from post-mortem Volt batteries has been the means whereby still-charged LG Chem battery cells have shorted and caused sparks, increased temperature, and in a couple cases, caught fire in lab tests.

It was confirmed that GM is looking at this, but Fox said nothing is sure yet.

Fox reiterated to us that GM is working "hand-in-hand" with NHTSA as we speak, and said he wishes he could give more, but fact is, a solution is not in place that GM can announce. He said speculation about crystallized coolant is just one among other possibilities GM and NHTSA are jointly investigating to determine how fires could start.

GM may have more info in "a couple of weeks" or so, but it is too early to say today whether that will mean an engineered procedure is ready to go for Volt drivers to head to their dealer, or GM only has an update to share about a pending fix.

Not so good news

Well we wrote yesterday that allegations were being made as to why the June NHTSA crash test fire was not immediately reported, and sure enough Uncle Sam wants to know about this too.

Specifically, a subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold hearings in the third or fourth week of January to find out more.

GM told us there was no intent to suppress the news, but the subcommittee wants to know whether government officials, including those at NHTSA, purposely held back information on the Volt fire for political reasons.



 

According to the Detroit News yesterday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told reporters that the Volt is safe to drive and at the same time he denied the government withheld information to protect GM.

Good news

Chalk another honor up for the Volt as it is now officially the 2011 Collectible Car of the Future and could win CNET's “Tech Car of the Year” award if enough people vote for it.

Only 4,488 Volts for model year 2011 were recorded as having come off the line, and among 23 finalists, the Volt got the vote from the Friends of the National Automotive History Collection .

Last year, the 2010 Camaro was the winner and previous winners include the 2009 Ford Flex, 2008 Dodge Challenger and 2007 Dodge Viper.



 

Furthermore, the American car is currently being pitted by CNET against three German cars and one Japanese car in a contest to pick the 2011 "Tech Car of the Year."

Other nominees are the 2012 Audi A7, 2011 BMW X3, 2012 Infiniti M Hybrid, and 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS550.

As of this writing, the Volt is in second place with 38 percent of votes, following the Audi A7 which has 42 percent.

Click here to see CNET’s contest and vote for the Volt.

Automotive News

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